Monday, May 21, 2007

Summer time

(This was written last year when the visiting summer students arrived. I have no idea why I never published it then. But today being the day that the summer students start their six week thing, I figure I would post it today. )

Summer time and weather is fine.
If you stretch right up you can touch the sky…

Thus spake Peter Andre – the one with the six pack abs.

However, summer time for a research scholar means something entirely different. This heralds the arrival of the species which in polite terms are called the short-term students. The people from various undergrad institutes that makes their way into My Esteemed Institute ostensibly to learn something new. This is of course all a part of the great initiative of a government funded research institute to encourage science aptitude in the undergrad.

I don’t know how it works in the theoretical sciences but it the experimental ones they get tagged along with some (un)lucky grad student.

Some of them are quite nice and I have had quite an enjoyable time with them. But these days all the summer students come with one thing – attitude with a capital A. I don’t know it is just me , or just me getting old, or some radical shift in perception.

Situation one

Here I am. We use carbon dioxide to make flies sit still so that we can work on them. The CO2 comes from huge cylinders outside the lab. One of these got over. Me poor me standing there with a spanner in my hand trying to move these huge things and fix them right.

This VSRP comes, makes whistling noise as if he pities me and then he just stand there and watchs. Just watches. All this while i have this huge spanner in my hand and I am trying to move these big cylinders because the helpers have all gone for the day.

“Why don’t you use some other less cumbersome method of anesthetizing flies?

Pregnant Pause.

Are you sure you are doing it right?

Another Pregnant Pause.

“This is really dangerous. What if it explodes?”

I had these mental images of crushing his skull out with my spanner. But then I gave him my MEI sneer and he went away.

Situation two

Then the irritating guy (from IIT) of larger than average proportions who comes into the lab.

Opens the door. Door bangs against some book shelf kept behind it. Then he asks why don’t you get rid of that thing? And gives us a look of supreme contempt. Like the morons that we non-IITians are should have fixed that problem earlier.

Situation three

Trying to make some lunchtime conversation – you know the situation where no one knows anyone and you are trying to pass time while you chew the grub. This fellow happened to be working in a certain s***** theory dept - which MEI is supposedly famous for.

Him: So who do you work with?


Him:Oh I don’t know him.

That is good thing.

Me:What do you work on?

Him: You would not understand.

End of conversation.

Situation four

Then there was the story of the student who thought he knew everything. And then he would catch people at the time when they had the most work and ask "what do you do?" Most people like to talk about their work so someone would start explaining about drosophila spermatogenesis and then he would say “Yah yah I know.” But he does then you start explaining something else and then he would say “yeah I know that too.”
Can’t you just listen? And no you don’t know these things.

And just when you think that you have got it all figured out and you are finally exploiting them to full glory – pat comes the news. Their six week training period is over and they have to leave and you end up finishing all the experiments that they have started.

Truly speaking they do provide us a whole bunch of jokes to laugh at for the rest of the year. Don’t get me wrong some of them are quite useful. and there are the incidental advantages. Some lucky peeps have found mates this way. But most of all they do remind us wizened old souls about why we started science in the first place – for the wonder and joy of it.

Just when you start to forget them, comes a new bunch of them bigger, brighter better - with attitudes to match.

Here's to another six weeks with the peeps that arrive today!


sri said...

Sounds so much like the students we get year on year.. :)

I know everything there is to know. I am above average in your course. The class average is 7/50 and I have scored 11/50..

Apart from my NRI relatives, I have not seen worse attitudes anywhere else.

samudrika said...

Truly. They just seem to get worse every year. but they have not started quoting their marks to me just yet. :)

Thanks for dropping by.

oook said...

BTW, Summertime was sung by Shaggy, not Peter Andre...

See? I know more than you! :P

samudrika said...

oh my gods! you are right.

but then my dear you always are..... :)